Disclaimer (May 13, 2016) Today may very well be my final day on my current job. Since students have read this post and not understood it, I want to stress that this is not meant in any negative way. I am simply new to this concept and wanted to make note of it as another learning point as a substitute.
Note: A student told me I had no right to write about this subject. I asked her if she had read my book about IEPs. If you have the same concern I welcome you to read my Best Seller, https://www.createspace.com/5309922
As a short term sub it is hard to know what concerns individual kids have in the class. If there are severe issues hopefully the office will tell you about it in advance of the start of the day but not always.
As a long term sub, reading the book of IEPs was a major priority by the IEP coordinator. In my particular case there is a Co-Teacher for Special Education and IEP students in the room. Still, it is imperative that the main teacher have a good understanding which students have the types of issues that could lead to a bad situation if handled wrong.
You can guess that the reason for this entry is because I was not aware of the possible reaction by a student. While going through a PPT a group of students were congregating in the corner and I asked them to disperse. One particular student was standing up talking. I asked him to sit. He talked back and I made a stronger request to go back to his seat. He stormed out of the room. The Co-Teach chased after him.
Since this is high school, I decided to talk about what happened with the class. I told them that they were aware of his possible reaction and could have prevented it by not inviting him into a conversation that never should have happened in the first place. I also reminded them I am a substitute and there are many things I dont know about them.
Today was all about testing for Biology and Earth Science. Open Book!
In many, but not all, cases I was able to work with the students to get high grades in the 90s and many aced the tests with 100s.
Unfortunately, there were students who typically score in the 40s, 50s and 60s who continued this today; in almost every case these kids thought they did really well. The Special Ed teacher in the room read the test aloud. This may have helped but the end result was still Fs.
These kids will all be able to retest but the test will be administered the same way and the results will be similar.
The higher grades…
There were a group of kids who aced the tests who are great test takers. Many of the kids, however, had 5 to 10 mistakes which lowered their grades as much as 25 points. For these kids I erased their incorrect answers and asked them to try again. Why?
I am a firm believer that testing is not always the best way of knowing how well a student understands material. The students were never given a chance to do this in prior testing teachers. They were not exactly sure what I was allowing them to do since all I told them in advance was to make sure they use pencils when writing the answers.
When they went back to their desks and reopened their books there was an obvious “spark” of added excitement and interest in finding the right answers. I was convinced without any doubt that the “spark” created a new interest in the material. I did not tell them the correct answers. This is still something they had to find out on their own!
Their new scores were as high as 100. You might ask if this is fair? I think it is since they still do the work and I was able to achieve my number one goal of nurturing the students.
The bad test takers…
I remember teaching my children when they were little. They learned the word Apple not because I spelled out the word apple or talked to them about a word. They learned the word Apple by associating it with a picture of an apple.
This makes me wonder if creating a testing system which would have photographs with questions. I am making the assumption of course that students with autism or other health impaired diagnosis, or simply students who are bad test takers, would do better if tests included associative visuals.
Please chime in.
Not from cars in the parking lot, but across the street from the cows. This is the view from my parking space at Washington High School.
I arrived an hour early to give myself a chance to meet with the Administration to go over what was expected of me in my new role. Unlike a short term substitute there are a number of things a long term has to do. I also wanted to learn what zero tolerance policies they have at the school. I have subbed here before but honestly did not worry as much since I was only there a day at a time.
I learned that for the next month I will be teaching Biology and Earth Sciences to 9th through 12th grades. There are other teachers that have the same curriculum so there is lots of support available in the Science Department. The best part though is that I have a Co-Teacher who has been doing this all year and REALLY knows her stuff. I actually subbed for her once this year but never met her until today.
I was invited to substitute teach today for a wonderful Civics’ teacher at Jefferson High School. I met him several times on past assignments for other teachers and gave him by business card in case he would be willing to invite me to substitute for him. He teaches Civics to 11th and 12th grades. Richard Nixon and Domestic/Foreign Affairs respectively. He made the day easy with handouts, worksheets and study guides. What was absolutely amazing is that he had coffee waiting for me when I arrived.
NOW THIS WAS A FIRST!
No teacher ever provided me with K-cups of coffee. I usually bring these to work but ironically ran out a few days ago and this was a very welcome surprise.
The BIG SURPRISE. During my 2nd Period the phone rang and it was Washington High School calling to offer me a 1 month long term substitute position to teach Science. I quickly accepted the job and start tomorrow morning. To make sure I am completely in accordance with the disciplinary rules at WHS I plan to arrive early at the school tomorrow morning to speak with a member of the Administration to understand how they want me to manage the classroom. I have substituted in this particular room before and recall that some of the students can be rambunctious and hard to handle and want to be sure I know what is allowed in disciplining students who misbehave.
I am really looking forward to this new experience.
I also had a chance to join the American Federation of Teachers today with a rep who was visiting Jefferson High School at lunch. The first time in my life that I have become a UNION MEMBER. That is also exciting for me.
Since today was also the New York Primary, I held an ad-hoc election in all the classes and the final results are below… Hopefully a sign of the West Virginia results.
Last week took me to 3 schools.
April 11th Monday – Washington High School
April 12th – 14th Tuesday thru Thursday – Shepherdstown Middle School
April 15th Friday – T.A. Lowery Elementary School
Monday’s job came by robocall at 5:45 in the morning. I spent the morning at WHS subbing for a Special Education teacher. Nothing special took place other than having the opportunity to work with Steven Lee one of WHS’s best Special Needs Aids.
The next 3 days were at what is becoming my most frequented school, Shepherdstown Middle. I subbed for Mr. Holmes’ Business Education, aka Computer Lab. I had students from 6th thru 8th grade, many of which I had subbed for in earlier visits to SMS. Great time. Would be great to do this one again, should I be fortunate to get the invite. Mr. Holmes is the SMS Football Coach.
On Friday I was given an opportunity to return to T.A. Lowery Elementary. This visit was with a wonderful 1st Grade Class. It was also really great seeing the kids I had subbed for earlier in the hall ways, all of which remembered me as I did them. Like a small reunion.